Do you drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill?
Don't like that wagon you're draggin' into 2012? Consider this your "green" boot camp regimen:
Bathe in a forest
The scents of trees, the sounds of streams, and the feel of sunshine through a forest are calming. Japanese scientists have researched the relaxing effects of forests and trees on our health. Turns out, a 30-minute forest stroll decreases blood sugars more than spending three hours on a stationary bike!
And breathing in natural substances, called phytoncides, or wood essential oils, can also help fight cancer. These antimicrobial volatile organic compounds (there are good kinds of VOCs) derived from trees increase the activity of our natural killer cells, supporting immune function.
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Join a green gym
Green Gym is a concept developed in the late '90s by U.K. physician Dr. William Bird.
No, it's not a hippodrome with solar panels.
Green Gym groups meet weekly to do one to four hours of hands-on conservation work, like path building, tree planting, or gardening. Participants' heart rates stay higher longer even than if they were taking an aerobics class. They also burn almost a third more calories, increase their cardio health and muscular strength, trim their waistlines, and decrease depression scores.
It's time to volunteer to work on a conservation project!
Walking is transportation
Even transit—buses, trams, and trains—won't pick you up in front of your house and drop you off at your ultimate destination. Why pay monthly gym membership fees when time in the great outdoors is free? Try walking meetings at work!
Lots of people see time outdoors like dessert: it would be nice but it's not necessary, one should only indulge once the chores are finished and the homework's done. Fact is, vitamin "N", for "nature," is essential for human function and reduces obesity, stress, and the incidence of clinical depression. Time in nature also improves impulse control and boosts immune function.
How will you spend time in nature in 2012?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green